UNESCO Chair Fellow Fr. Joseph Tham spoke on the ethical issues of providing healthcare in an April 15 talk to the Harvard Club of Hong Kong.

Tham noted that while new technology offers men a longer lifespan than ever, many nations are struggling cover the costs of such advances as they limit their budgets in times of economic crisis.  In his talk entitled “Is the Cost of Healthcare Sustainable? The dilemma of technology in extending lifespan.” Tham addressed the group of Harvard University alumni.

Tham, a trained medical doctor and professor of bioethics in Rome, encouraged the audience to address the fundamental issues involved in various public debates about sustainable healthcare.  He insisted that we must understand well the goals of medicine and the role of technology in our life in order to overcome the tensions that can arise in shaping policy.

He noted that medicine is sometimes presumed to defeat disease completely so as to provide an impossible earthly immortality.  To understand healthcare properly, we must reflect well upon the significance of the unavoidable realities of aging, suffering, and death that touch each of our lives.

Tham concluded with reflection upon the meaning of human nature and man’s openness to trust in the transcendent realities that can offer new purpose to our earthly existence.